As You Pass By

As You Pass By

As You Pass By

As You Pass By

Excerpt

Events change a city's skyline. Each succeeding generation brings in new personalities and new accomplishments that stamp their impressions upon the physical outlines of a community. This has been the outstanding case in New York. For its size and age, New York probably has fewer landmarks or physical signs of its early history than any other major city. Nevertheless, lying beneath your feet, are the quaint neighborhoods, villages, roads, streams and the foundations or sites of buildings long since removed in the cause of expansion and progress.

It is probably not an exaggeration to state that most native New Yorkers have never seen or are not conscious of many of the present points of interest or even the marked historic sites in their own city. These are oftentimes better known to visitors and the "New Yorkers" from elsewhere. Yet, as in any other town, the citizens have a deep sentiment for their city's storied past.

To a great extent, the demands of commerce and industry have molded the city's essential character. In many ways this great metropolis has been the vortex of the commercial and industrial development of the entire nation. Except for the Spanish settlements, which were founded on dreams of conquest and treasure, Manhattan was the only major colonial settlement in the United States established purely for business reasons. The human problems of convicts, paupers or sufferers from religious persecution, fugitives from the stench of Europe, were of perfunctory interest to the Dutch West India Company. The thrifty, persistent Dutch founded and established Manhattan Island for commercial and economic development and the impression of those early Dutchmen is still upon the character of New Yorkers many generations and nationalities later.

There is probably no other city in the world of equal age which is so voluminously -- but confusedly -- documented and so little known.

Perhaps that is why many have been discouraged in telling such a tale as that which is presented here. History, one of the most difficult studies, is often glossed over as a series of facts too undefined to make any great personal difference to us. However, anyone who has the skill to make the past, with its traditions and lessons, more real; and our forebears, who built this great country, more alive, gives us a better understanding of ourselves and our fellow men.

This volume is the result of an intense civic pride and a faith in the simple truths which are the milestones of human progress. Cynicism seems silly in an atomic age. There has never been a time when tolerance for others and love for our country, our city, our homes, has been more important.

To know something of events and the characters, exploits, even foibles, of a few of our forebears, is to give us at least a cross section of history as it has been lived. In this book the author has endeavored to focus your interest on the exact spots where the events of history and "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" occurred. While the plan of this work is simple, the amount of preparation which has gone into it has been prodigious. The remarkable display of illustrations, most of which have never before appeared in print, the exactness and clarity of the specially prepared maps, will give you an heretofore unknown thrill of personal acquaintanceship with the past in relation to the present.

The unique method of restoring to us many of Manhattan's earlier scenes is one that I do not believe has ever appeared before. Many years of research have gone into the project. In looking over some of the author's notes, I was amazed at the scope of his efforts and cannot think offhand of a source of history, literature and art that has not been carefully investigated to substantiate the scenes and to give each of the structures shown an honest, solid foundation. It was astounding to me to learn that in each . . .

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